Daily Archives: December 18, 2013

What is SEO?


a one min explanation

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gives value and rank to websites depending on relevant content, click through rates, back links, and authorship.

3 major components that power a search engine

  1. Crawling
    Google sends spiders (bits of computer code) to find and read information on web pages. If the spider can’t read or doesn’t understand your page, it can’t be ranked or indexed.
  2. Indexing
    The spider is not just casually browsing, it’s storing information in a giant database for future reference. It then revisits the information when beneficial for searchers and gauges how relevant your content is to the words people use when searching for an answer.
  3. Ranking
    Google uses a search software that follows a set of complex rules (algorithm) to decide what content to deliver to the searcher.

Obtaining good SEO is not all about pleasing an algorithm. You must write copy using the language of your audience to gain natural authority.

That’s right, the customer always comes first and Google won’t treat you as relevant until others do first.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome (Photo credit: thms.nl)

Create engaging valuable content that’s sharable and Google will love you.

5 things you should know about keywords

  1. Use research tools like Google Keywords to better understand what and how your audience are asking questions.
  2. Be specific with your keywords. Use phrases like “NYC personal trainer” rather than “personal trainer”
  3. Target keywords with high popularity and low competition.
  4. Choose keywords that are relevant to your ultimate goal.
  5. Provide content that the needs of your visitors like a useful blog or a detailed Q&A page.

The best way to hack SEO is to provide valuable content for your audience. Heaps of good content means more answers, click throughs, social sharing, and happy searchers. Google spiders love that.

How do you take advantage of SEO? Tell me in the comments.

Written by

Freelance writer, digital marketer, and fitness professional. Tweets @stephnieman

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Pre-Startups


Pre-Startups

The warm-up before doing your own company

 

Pre-startup is a short-term project that solves a real problem for at least one person. It can be novel, but it’s not necessary. The key is to be useful for someone.

Mark Zuckerberg did FaceMash before Facebook. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak did an non-authorized phone calling system Blue Box before Apple I. The initial project for Sergey Brin and Larry Page was to download the whole content of the Web. The search engine came only after that.

If you have never done a pre-startup do not start a company now. Do a pre-startup first. You learn how to make things and how to sell them. All on a safe scale, without wasting much time and money. Pre-startups give you confidence. They also make you more convincing for future clients, employees and partners.

Doing a pre-startup is like passing a driving exam. Do it well and go for the big roads.


Ideas for pre-startups

Sell something physical. Put it on Ebay, organize a garage sale, get a table at a weekend market.

Throw an event. Eventbrite is your friend and can handle registrations and payments. An invite-only meeting with someone famous is fairly easy to organize.

Organize or teach a (paid) class. Promote it on Skillshare and other class aggregation services.

Produce and sell a small batch of something. Handmade, t-shirt collections, jewelry. All basic categories have great platforms to sell. Etsy and Cafepress are very open to newcomers. Invent some new product on Quirky.

Open an internet store. Use store builder like Shopify or Ecwid. Buy low, sell high. My friends have opened an online store selling live insects. You can get creative, too.

Image representing Sergey Brin as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

Do a media project. Document a road trip, write a blog, start a youtube channel. Aim for large number of views, likes and subscribers. Many startups (Cragslist, Thrillist, Startup Digest) started as a simple email list.

Sell something digital. Market research, instructions and check lists, sample documents. Gumroad can help.

Import. Bring a cool foreign product to your local market. E.g. be the first to sell Google Glass in your city.

Do a consulting project for one client. Ask to retain the IP rights for your solution. There is a chance you can resell it to someone else in the future.

Do a side project for a bigger company. Big organizations always have more opportunities that they can execute on. Ask them, what opportunities are they interested to pursue but can’t because of lack of resources? Offer to do a side project with them. E.g. additional distribution channels or additional services for their customer base.

The Web is now full of platforms for pre-startup projects.

Startups are hard and scary. Start with something easy.


This article is a part of Earlydays, an open guide for first-time entrepreneurs.

Written by Yury Lifshits — yury@yury.name — @yurylifshits

View story at Medium.com

 

 

 

TED and the Declining Value of Ideas


First published in the March/April issue of THIS Magazine.

The first time I watched Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on educational reform, I found myself nodding along vigorously. Yes! Schools do kill creativity! The system is broken! My kids can’t be shuttled through such a clearly flawed learning process! My anger was so consuming that I took that first big step toward making a real difference—I posted the video on Facebook. Unfortunately, that was also my last step toward making a real difference.

As terrible as that sounds, it’s not unusual. This is what we do. We learn about systemic problems, social injustice and general uncouthness, we get mad, we share it on the web, possibly adding an indignant statement. A few of our friends click “Like” and we all go about our day, a job well done. It would be easy to blame the internet, but this behaviour isn’t new. It’s called “narcotizing dysfunction” and researchers Paul F. Lazarfeld and Robert K. Merton identified it in the late 1940s. Basically, they discovered that by learning about a particular issue, we think we’re somehow helping. Because I saw—and shared!—a video about educational reform, I can sleep at night knowing I’ve done my part to reform education.

While TED has been around since 1984, it really started capturing mass attention in 2006 when it began posting its 18-minute talks online (Robinson’s video was one of the first and is currently the most popular). Last year, its growing collection of videos passed a billion views. The TED slogan is “Ideas worth spreading” and in this respect, it is wildly successful. But this success doesn’t come in spite of narcotizing dysfunction, it comes because of it. TED understands human nature better than we might realize. Organizers have said that the goal of TED “is to make ideas accessible in a way that matches modern attention spans,” as though our growing inability to focus on one thing for any amount of time was something to be accommodated instead of overcome. Even more tragically, the sizable audience a TED talk brings its presenter has led to 18-minute aphorisms competing for attention, often to sell books or future speaking gigs for big money. TED offers ideas packaged as Happy Meals and self-help masquerading as science. It’s a pseduo-intellectual Thunderdome where complex issues are reduced to pablum. The typical TED talk has become so ridiculous that when the Onion decided to parody them with a series of hilarious “Onion Talks,” the send-ups were so spot-on that although mostly insane, I wouldn’t be shocked to find out at least a few people couldn’t discern them from the real thing.

So in a world where ideas are pared to bite-size morsels and spoon fed via social networks, and people themselves aren’t really inclined to act on them anyway, what is the real-world value? What’s the point? The point is that ideas can and do matter. The world is a better place because people had ideas about equality and science and creativity. TED’s not wrong, some ideas are worth spreading (though I’d question whether or not TED is the best judge of just which ideas should be spread—they once had Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love deliver a talk on “genius”). But ideas require action to make a difference. If we care about something, clicking a “Share” button or a “Like” button is literally the least we can do and we shouldn’t be surprised to discover the world can’t be changed through the Facebook newsfeed.

I have two sons. I do legitimately care about the quality of their education. If I believe what Ken Robinson says, that the way we teach our kids is inherently and deeply flawed, I owe it to him, myself and especially my kids to offer more than just a token gesture.

View story at Medium.com

Wrike Launches Enterprise Platform For Project Management And A Data Driven Business World


Posted 1 hour ago by (@alexwilliams)

Wrike has launched a new version of its project management platform with an emphasis on real-time analysis and new features such as syncing calendars to work projects. The new platform, Wrike Enterprise, gives the company a deeper focus on the corporate market for its collaboration-centered tools. It gives customers a way to crunch project management data in the order of a million updates per day. This is data around work items such as tasks completed, the original time planned for the project and the historical data that is associated with the project. The data is presented in “instant infographics,” that help people see the latest updates to projects, said Wrike CEO Andrew Filev in an email interview.

keep reading -> http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/17/wrike-launches-enterprise-platform-for-project-management-and-a-data-driven-business-world/

 

The Most Important Thing You’re Not Doing to Start 2014


Instead of setting goals for 2014, do this.

It’s only mid-December, and you’re already inundated with blog posts, email newsletters, Facebook posts and tweets to tell you how to end this year and start the next. Whether they’re based on principles derived from Tony Robbins, Getting Things Done, Franklin-Covey, or whatever is the latest change-your-life system, it’s all about:

  • Setting goals for next year, that are specific in time and amount.
  • Picking three words (or one word) as your “theme” or focus for the year.
  • Creating a matrix analysis of specific goals for each area of your life.

Yep, by being intentional, it makes it much more likely that your goals will happen in 2014. Classic life coaching strategy.

But … that’s the wrong place to start.

Start with: what really happened in 2013?

I don’t just mean which goals you achieved, how much money you made, how many miles you ran, or how many tasks you got done (even though those can be awesome stats to measure).

No, not last year’s data.

Here’s the big question:

Who are you now, that you were not capable of being one year ago?

  • Are you more brave?
  • Are you now open to bigger opportunities?
  • Did you learn, grow, expand as a friend or in your profession or as a leader?
  • Do you now feel comfortable in your own body?
  • Are you now capable of setting strong boundaries?
  • Do you finally trust yourself?
  • Did you heal?

Yes, maybe you’re still seemingly stuck in that job, relationship, debt, sickness, or city.

But the year where it seemed like nothing happened—may be the year where you happened.

Start out 2014 by celebrating who you are capable of being today, that you couldn’t yet be, one year ago.

From that place of being, you now have the center and the power to go create all your amazing plans and goals and words for 2014.

View story at Medium.com

 

What You Do Is Not (Necessarily) Who You Are


What You Do Is Not (Necessarily) Who You Are

 

Among the niceties and travails of meeting people for the first time, there’s no more loaded question than “What do you do?” I would almost prefer to respond to “What is your favorite sexual position?” or “How do you feel about your mother?” because people would be less likely to read into my answer.

I have European friends who loathe the question because they think it’s coded language that only means one thing: How much money do you make? But that’s only part of it. It means that, and several other things. It can also mean: Is what you do significant? Do you have control over what you do? Where are you in the hierarchy of your company? Are you allowed to be creative in your job? Does your job give you status, professionally and personally? and so on.

Then, more implications: What does your work say about who you are? What does it say about where you came from and where you are now?

In its most innocuous version, the question means, do we have anything in common? Is what you do something interesting we could talk about? But given all of the other implications, it’s hard to feel like you’re not being assessed in a much larger way..

English: Tim Hetherington at a Hudson Union So...

English: Tim Hetherington at a Hudson Union Society event with Sebastian Junger, co-director of the Oscar-nominated, Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary, Restrepo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a good reason for that. For most of us who actively chose what we do, it’s usually a reflection of, at the very least, our interests. If you’re well-educated and mostly unencumbered by serious financial constraints you likely made a conscious decision to go into your field. (And by serious financial constraints, I mean supporting a family in another country, astronomical medical bills, etc. I am not referring to paying off student loans until your grandkids are in college, which I will probably be doing myself.) It’s unlikely that you woke up one day and decided to become a periodontist “just because.”

This is because we are fortunate enough to have “careers” and not merely jobs. My dad had a job—for over forty years—and the same one at that. He was a local lineman for the Alabama Power Company. He didn’t hate his job, but he certainly didn’t consider it a career. For my dad, “What do you do?” was a boring question. But if you wanted to know what his interests were, you could talk about what he did on the side: he was also a part-time contractor, and I grew up in a wonderful house he built from the ground up. Building things was a part of who he was, but not necessarily what he did.

For me, the question is often complicated. At various points in my career, I’ve been an equity analyst, an entrepreneur, a journalist, a blogger, an editor, an adjunct professor, a marketing director, and a strategy consultant. Now I do bits of several of those things, so my clunky answer to what do you do is, “Uh, a bunch of stuff?” Until a few months ago, I was the editor-in-chief of the New York Observer, and if there was one thing about that job that was easy and convenient, it was that it made “what do you do?” easier and less irritating to answer. No one needs an explanation of what a newspaper editor does. (But for the five years prior to the Observer, the answer was, as it is now, a bunch of stuff.)

In Renata Adler’s Gone: The Last Days of the New Yorker, a memoir of her time there and analysis of its state in the late ‘90s, she writes that the imprimatur of The New Yorker was strong enough to render moot any other significant cultural or class signifiers:

“There are many ways, in the contemporary world, in which people who have never met meet, appraise, and identify one another. Accents, clothes, how much they spend, airline class in which they travel, people whom they know, universities they have attended, things more subtle and ineffable. Nothing, for Americans at least, seems more immediate than institutional affiliation, the place where they work, and in what capacity. Among jobs, in those days, there was no qualification for meeting people that seemed, everywhere, less subject to question than working for a respected newspaper or magazine.”

As someone who has worked for several respected newspapers and magazines (though not The New Yorker), I think she exaggerates a bit. People who work in journalism put The New Yorker and magazines like it on a pedestal that’s many a story higher than the average person who does not work in journalism—even the more enthusiastic readers. But there is some refuge in institutional affiliation, as there is in certain job titles.

But what do all of these things really say about who we are? There’s a danger in conflating work with self, even if work has consumed everything we do. In Sebastian Junger’s recent documentary on the late photographer and documentary filmmaker Tim Hetherington, Which Way to the Front Line?, Junger chronicles Hetherington’s work in West Africa, Afghanistan, and Misrata, Libya, where he was eventually killed. Hetherington did extremely important work, and in his documentary, Diary, he explores the tension between his life at home and his life in the field. Just before he left for Libya, he expressed reservations about continuing to work in conflict zones. It had cannibalized other parts of his life. He wanted to pursue a long-term relationship with his girlfriend. He wanted a family. He wanted to explore doing different kinds of work. But he decided to go back into the field one last time and didn’t come back.

It would be disingenuous to argue that Hetherington’s work wasn’t part of who he was, but as Junger’s documentary so beautifully illustrates, it wasn’t all there was of Tim Hetherington.

Producing good work has many benefits, and it certainly contributes to a stronger sense of identity and purpose. But fullness of self is about more than that. It’s about those ancillary but more direct questions: What are our interests? What are our values? Where did we come from, and where are we now? All of these things are qualities that can develop in tandem with work, but they’d probably develop even if we had a job and not a career.

There’s a D.H. Lawrence quote I found in Geoff Dyer’s smart and wickedly funny book, Out of Sheer Ragewherein the author chronicles his aspirations to write a biography of Lawrence and epic procrastinations at doing so—that speaks to this perfectly. “I don’t think that to work is to live,” Lawrence says. “Work is alright in proportion: but one wants to have a certain richness and satisfaction in oneself, which is more than anything produced. One wants to be.

There’s nothing wrong with asking someone what they do, and certainly no harm in answering the question. But don’t assume the answer means everything.

View story at Medium.com

 

 

Ads Are Content Too


The problem isn’t we have advertisements. It’s that we aren’t doing a better job of delivering beneficial content.

Clutter. Clutter. Clutter. Clutter. Image overload. Ads galore. … This is why people miss the glory days of RSS (maybe the only reason).
MG Siegler, “Let It Full Bleed

Haven’t we had this conversation before? The problem with websites like TechCrunch, Facebook, Twitter, Mashable, and so on isn’t that they haven’t implemented that great unsolicited redesign yet. The visual design might be a problem in some cases, but I feel the larger problem is we’re still delivering ads the same way we did 20 years ago.

Ads are content too.

Do yourself a favor. Stop thinking of ads as some image thrown in the sidebar or header of a websites after you’ve painstakingly finished a design. Everything we place on our websites is content. We painstakingly craft the rest of our content. Why should that stop with ads we allow on our website? We need to craft more ads that are entertaining, informative, and helpful.

People don’t hate ads.

People share ads all the time. Like the Super Bowl ads every year. Or this older commercial from Old Spice. Or Chiptole’s amazing animation “The Scarecrow” from earlier this year.

People don’t hate ads. They hate irrelevant content. They hate boring content. They hate wasting their time with misguiding content, whether intentional or not. This is why the most popular Chrome extension is AdBlock, boasting over 15 million users. Users hate being misled.

Ah! I see you’re trying to guilt me into whitelisting your websites.

We’ve created this mess. Let’s start thinking of better ways we can deliver beneficial services and products to our users.

View story at Medium.com

 

Is Twitter part of your product launch strategy?


Focus on engagement and reciprocation for effective launch of your updates

Out of 115 million active monthly twitter users, who constitute 21% of all twitter users, about 38 million share opinions and make recommendations about the brands they follow.


Courtesy: http://tollowers.com/downloads Out of 555 million registered Twitter users about 115 million visit Twitter actively every month.

Going by these stats, if your brand has 1000 Twitter followers, about 70 users are actively willing to talk about your brand. When those 70 users retweet or share about your brand it gets the attention of at least 5000 users who are their followers and the message spreads exponentially from there.

This is just an indication of the potential of this platform to reach a wider audience. On day to day basis we are seeing more and more people willing to engage their network on social media by talking about the likes and dislikes about the brands they encounter. This phenomenon has laid out an amazing platform for brands to easily reach to their target market and potential customers.

With this understanding of how twitter follower-ship leads to better market reach, engagement and sales of your products, you need to focus on the two things to make the most out of Twitter.

  1. Increase Twitter followers
  2. Tactically spread your product updates

Build your Twitter network

Stick to the basics

You need to have a relevant and unique Twitter bio and a cover photo, for people to instantly identify who you are and what you do. Tweet consistently and regularly to keep your twitter handle active round the clock considering your global audience. Attach your Twitter URL on your business card, email signature, your social profiles and website. Follow relevant people who you think would add value to your understanding of business.

Do not forget, about 30% people you follow will follow you back.

When you don’t talk about yourself, be relevant

Regularly tweet your questions and opinions on stuff useful to your followers. When you talk about things that people would love to know, yet hard to find for themselves, readers feel engaged. More the engagement, more retweets you get and thus more followers.

Retweet someone who you think should follow you. When you retweet, people have a natural propensity to follow you back as a sign of appreciation and may even return a retweet later. This strategy works well when you want to have influencers as your followers who could serve as your brand evangelists later.

Also add appropriate hashtags to your tweets since millions are always searching for those topics who will find your tweet useful and follow you back.

Talk about your brand

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Build the hype

The launch of your new product should not be the first time your Twitter followers hear from you. Use the quiet time before the product launch to tweet regularly, generate interest and expectation around your launch.

Draft the message

Draft your message highlighting the benefits that your target readers could derive from your product or feature. Always remember to engage your followers with your tweets and not let them feel you are promoting something. To get the most attention for your tweets and product updates try to tag along with trending hashtags. Come up with a list of hashtags relevant to your update and also watch out for trending topics in Twitter. Strategically planning your launch with relation to trending topics could help you reach out to more people.

Get the timing right

Engagement rates are highest for brands during Saturdays and Sundays. Also more people use Twitter at around 9 AM, 12 PM, 3 PM and 6 PM on any day. Strategize your tweet calendar keeping this in mind.

Promote through Twitter ads

There are many ways to promote via twitter using paid plans. See what is appropriate to you. You can use geo-targeting to attract people from a specific location, device targeting to reach out to mobile users, promote to people searching for tags specific to a particular topic, etc. There are more such tactics and examples that could help you.

Use visual brevity

Do not make your tweets too long for people to read i.e., keep your tweets lesser than 100 characters. Share links for people to click and get more information.

Wherever possible add images. With the new preview photo and video option on Twitter it is really easy to visually engage people.

In all, using Twitter to connect with customers and prospects is so easy it doesn’t make sense not to do it when it comes to promoting your products.


If you found this post helpful you might want to follow me on twitter where I tweet about Startups and Product Strategy

View story at Medium.com

John Teevan From Soshitech.com Interviews Alice Chauvel, Marketing Coordinator At London Based Startup, Skimlinks.com!


What is Skimlinks and how does it work?

Skimlinks is a London based startup that rewards publishers – be they top news sites or solo bloggers – for linking to products and generating sales. We work with 18,000 merchants to ensure that when someone makes a purchase after interacting with content on your site, you earn a commission for that sale. We do this through a variety of great tools, including our award winning SkimLinks and SkimWords products. Using Skimlinks is extremely simple: all that’s needed is to install a line of code in the footer of your website. Said code will then automatically spot unaffiliated links in your content to merchants and/or products that are part of our network, and add a tracking tag to the links when someone clicks on them. This way, we can ensure that the sale is attributed to you in a way that doesn’t impact the user experience as the link remains, for all intents and purposes, a normal link.  All of our publishers have access to a personal publisher interface – the Hub – where they can add extra websites to their account, activate Skimlinks products (like SkimWords which turns product references into links to retailers where the product can be purchased), access detailed analytics such as which of the products recommended on their website has been most successful with their readers, and find all sorts of information about the merchants in our network.

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Is anyone able to use SkimLinks?

Absolutely! There are no experience or traffic requirements – anyone from a first time blogger to an experienced webmaster can use Skimlinks – and our products work on anything from blogs to forums, editorial sites, social networks, mobile apps, deal websites, and everything in between. All that’s needed is to sign-up, and then we’ll go through each application to ensure that submitted websites match certain basic criteria (mainly things like not illegally distributing copyrighted material, etc.).

How long has Skimlinks been around for?

We celebrated our 6th birthday last August! Skimlinks was launched in 2007, as a result of a pivot from a previous company offering a social decision-making tool called Skimbit. Today, we’re a team of almost 70 people spread across offices in London, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

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What does the future of Skimlinks look like?

It looks pretty darn bright if you ask us! Numbers wise, we’re expecting to drive half a billion in retail sales next year – that’s double what we did this year. And, our company grew by around 20+ staff members – another number set to grow! We even had to move to a new office in order to accommodate the increase: In terms of products, we’re finalising version 2 of the recently released Skimlinks Editor – a Chrome extension for publishers that provides them with key product information (price, commission rate, alternative purchasing options) and allows them to create and share affiliate links straight from their browser. We received amazing feedback and suggestions which we’re incorporating alongside a series of brand new features – we’re really excited about this one! Similarly, we’ll be further improving our publisher interface and its analytics section to make it even easier to navigate and provide users with even more detailed information as to what in their content has been successful with their readers. Last but not least, we’re developing a whole series of new and exciting products so keep your eyes peeled.

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Does Skimlinks cost any money to sign up?

None whatsoever! It is completely free to sign-up to Skimlinks and use our services. We work on a revenue share model so you don’t pay anything to join or use the service; we just take a small cut from the commissions you earn. For our main product – SkimLinks – and the rest of our tools, the split is 25/75 – we keep 25% and pay you the 75%.

How many users currently use skimlinks?

About 50000 users.

What is ‘Invisible hand’ and why did Skimlinks acquire them?

InvisibleHand is an amazing price comparison browser extension that we had been working with for a number of years before we acquired them and brought on their talented engineering and product teams. Robin and co. developed a really great product that runs on first class technology: their API provides class-leading product-matching, real-time price data, link synonymy, product identifier lookup & reverse lookup, flexible text-string product search, MAP circumvention and URL normalisation. Their technology and professional experience allowed us to immediately enhance our core products, offer unique insights, and start development on new products – all of which were very important steps in our quest to maximize earnings for our publishers.